Province of Prussia. In documents of the thirteenth century Jews are mentioned as living in the mark of Brandenburg and carrying on commerce there. In Belitz they were accused of having desecrated the host in 1243; and a similar charge caused a persecution at Pritzwalk in 1287. In 1294 the magistrate of Frankfort-on-the-Oder issued an agreement between the butchers and Jews of that city. So many Jews were living at Stendal by 1297 that a special Jews' regulation was issued. The Jews of Spandau are first mentioned in 1307, in a regulation regarding slaughtering issued by the margrave Herrmann; and Jews are similarly mentioned at Brandenburg and Eberswalde in 1315. In 1320 the margravine Agnes transferred to Berlin and Cologne her rights over the Jews in those cities, and in the same year the dukes of Pomerania did the same in regard to Prenzlau. The Jews' tax was regulated at Neu-Ruppin in 1323.Early Settlements.
The Jews of the mark were highly favored, and their number was greatly increased under the rule of the Bavarian margraves, especially under Ludwig (1323-51). The latter gave letters of protection to the Jews at Havelberg, Arneburg, Pritzwalk, Seehausen, Werben, and Kyritz in 1334, to those at Salzwedel in 1344, and to those at Perleberg in 1345. In 1346 he granted to the butchers of Strausberg certain privileges in regard to slaughtering among the Jews. In 1348 the margrave enfeoffed a citizen of Luckau with the Jews of Guben, and pledged the Jews of Luckau with him for 150 marks silver. In 1349 the Jews of Berlin, Stendal, Angermüude, and Spandau were severely persecuted by the Flagellants, among whose victims were the rabbis Joseph and Solomon, sons of Rabbi Jacob. The Jews were driven from Königsberg in 1351. Margrave Ludwig pledged the Jews of Müncheberg with the city in 1353; in 1356 he permitted the city of Mittelwalde to receive four Jews; Margrave Otto allowed the city of Rathenow to keep two in 1371. A Jews' street is mentioned at Stendal as early as 1369; Jobst of Moravia presented the site of the former Jews' school at Salzwedel to the Georgeshospital of that city in 1401.Under the Hohenzollerns.
The privileges that Margrave Ludwig had granted were confirmed in 1420 by Friedrich I., the first prince of the house of Hohenzollern, at Brandenburg. Conditions changed under his successors. In 1446 all the Jews of the mark were suddenly imprisoned at the command of the elector Friedrich II., and their property was confiscated. In 1509 thirty-eight Jews of Spandau, Brandenburg, and Stendal were accused of having bought a host from a thief of Bernau, and were burned at Berlin; the remainder were expelled from the country. The elector Joachim II. again admitted several Jews in consideration of 400 marks, and 3,000 marks silver paid annually to the mints at Berlin and Stendal respectively for protection. He especially favored the Jew Lippold; but his successor had Lippold executed on the pretense of having poisoned the elector, and again expelled the Jews. In 1671 fifty Jewish families, who were among the emigrants from Wiener-Neustadt, were granted permission to reside in the mark for a space of twenty years by the great elector Friedrich Wilhelm. They were exempted from the poll-tax on the payment of 400 thalers in 1684. In 1685 they numbered eighty-six families; there were 116 families in 1690; and in 1692 they had increased to 177. In 1714 King Friedrich I. issued new regulations for his protected Jews, who by that time had obtained permanent residence.
In the beginning of the eighteenth century (1703) they were much harassed on the accusation of having reviled the founder of the Christian religion in their prayers. The General Regulations for the Jews ("General Juden-Reglement") of the year 1750 contained a clause to the effect that every protected Jew should take the oath of allegiance. In 1765 the question of increasing the payment for protection was considered. Toward the end of the Seven Years' war, and later, a number of influential and wealthy Jews were granted, free of charges, the same rights as Christian merchants, on account of their services to the state. Frederick the Great used the Jews arbitrarily for his purposes. In 1779 the Jews living in the mark numbered 5,782, of whom 3,409 came from Berlin. In 1899 they numbered 18,394. See also Berlin; Prussia.
- Bresslau, in Steinschneider, Hebr. Bibl. xii. 11;
- Landsberg, ib. xxi. 22;
- idem, in Monatsschrift, xxxi. 34;
- König, Annalen der Juden in den Preussischen Staaten, Besonders in der Mark Brandenburg, Berlin, 1790;
- Salfeld, Martyrologium, p. 287;
- Auerbach, Das Judenthum und Seine Bekenner, pp. 185 et seq.;
- Kaufmann, in Berliner's Magazin, xviii. 48 et seq.